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DHS PATH Family Center

Design Consultant: Ennead Architects LLP
Location: Bronx
Client Agency: Department of Homeless Services

Overview: The DHS Prevention Assistance and Temporary Housing building, or PATH, was designed and built to efficiently and courteously serve homeless families during the eligibility assessment and shelter placement process.  Designed by Ennead Architects, the building is organized in two parts to separate client interviews and administrative work. This building attained a LEED Gold rating through its many energy- and water-saving measures.

Sustainable Features:  The DHS PATH building displays many of its noteworthy sustainable design features directly on its three-part façade, designed to be a highly-insulated, self-ventilating cavity made of materials that visually reference the surrounding neighborhood.  The terra cotta panels allude to the neighborhood’s historical brick architecture; the zinc and metal trim acknowledge a more modern, industrial aesthetic; and the high-performance translucent glazing acts as a prism to diffuse the natural light. The terra cotta rain-screen system is a suspended, back-ventilated, ceramic shell that allows for continuous air movement in the cavity, maintaining dry wall cladding and providing efficient insulation. The translucent windows behind the horizontal terra cotta are operable, and allow natural daylight to penetrate deep into the space; providing even illumination from both the north and south facades, eliminating glare, and enhancing the comfort of the visitors and productivity of the workers inside.

Moving to the building interior, energy efficiency was a major element of the design, with expected energy cost savings of $42,000, or 29% of the building’s total energy cost. The project has a performance rating of 22.1% using the ASHRAE 90.1-2004 Appendix G methodology. These savings are the result of high-efficiency boilers and fans, the rain-screen façade, automatic shading, and daylight dimming controls. The building utilizes perimeter solar sensors and a motorized shade system to manage natural light throughout the day, which accounts for nearly 20% of the total energy use reduction. 

The DHS PATH is projected to save 33.9% of the building’s total potable water use, or about 338,000 gallons annually. This is achieved by the use of low-flow bathroom fixtures, as well  capturing rain water and re-using it for cooling tower  water and irrigation. Use of native and adaptive plants that require little or no irrigation further reduces  the demand for potable water. 

Noteworthy Accolades:

  • 2006 Public Design Commission Award for Excellence in Design
  • LEED Gold



Ennead Architects, LLP 

MEP Engineer

WSP Flack + Kurtz 

Structural Engineer

Robert Silman Associates, P.C. 

Lighting Design

Brandston Partnership, Inc. 

Sustainable Design/LEED

Viridian Energy & Environmental 

Civil Engineer

Langan Engineering and Environmental Services, Inc. 


Robert Schwartz & Associates 


Pentagram Design, Inc. 


Dome-Tech Inc.


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Sustainable Site

Stormwater run-off – Reduced by 100%
Alternate transportation encouraged
Urban Heat Island Effect mitigated
Air pollution reduced during construction – preventing debris
Open space protected and restored – Increased by 30%

Noisy cooling equipment located within roof, away from neighbors
Light-colored, high-reflectance, low-emissivity roofing
Light-colored paving used
Bicycle racks and shower facilities
Reserved on street parking for fuel efficient and hybrid vehicles, including DHS
fleet of hybrid vehicles
100% of the non-roof impervious surfaces on site have been paved with highly
reflective materials
Stormwater technology captures and reuses rainwater through cooling tower
make-up water to irrigate plants
Green roof composed of native and adaptive plants to local climate


Water Efficiency

Potable water use reduced 35.1% over 1992 Energy Policy Act
(26,000 gallons/year)
Total water use reduced by 33.9% (338,000 gallons/year)
Green Roof requires no water irrigation

Dual-flush water closets, and low-flow lavatories, urinals, and sinks
Native adaptive plants requiring no permanent irrigation/maintenance



LEED Gold under LEED NC v2.2
Energy use reduced 23% of total energy cost over the ASHRAE/IESNA
Standard 90.1-2004 Appendix G ($42,000/year)
Lighting energy use reduced 15% over a baseline ASHRAE/IESNA 90.1-2001
Saving 16,730 therms/year of gas (36.7%), and 161,192
kWh/ year electricity (14.6%)
Payback – 8.2 years simple payback of energy conserving measures
Ozone depletion reduced
System-operations integrated
Predicted Energy Use Intensity of 79.1 (code allows 108 kBtu/sf EUI)
Energy Star Target Finder score of 90
NYPA-Wind Energy will provide RECs equal to 74.6% of the building's
total annual electric energy usage

Extensive day lighting, with daylight dimming controls in perimeter office
spaces, and occupancy sensors in enclosed offices
Exterior insulated envelope with high-performance glazing
Self-ventilating façade
Envelope improved with insulation and high-performance glass
Demand-based ventilation controlled by CO2 sensors
Condensing boilers at 94% efficiency
VFD on hot water circulation pumps with 30% turndown ratio, per
types and screening techniques ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-1999
Heat recovery with glycol loop at 50% efficiency
Premium efficiency motors
Domestic hot water boiler is a natural gas fired boiler with 80% thermal
efficiency, per ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-1999
Purchased Green-e accredited Tradable Renewable Certificates (RECs)
equal to 74.6% of the predicted annual electrical consumption over a
2-year period


Material Conservation

Construction and demolition waste – 99.6% was diverted from
landfill (6,232 tons)
Recycled materials constitute 11.54% of total building materials content
Local products given preference – 13.98% of materials

Construction and demolition waste to be tracked and sorted at off-site
recycling facility
Major materials targeted for recycled content, including structural steel,
fly-ash concrete, ceiling tile products, gypsum board, and aluminum louvers

Regional materials include concrete, structural steel, pre-cast concrete,
and ceiling tile products


Healthy Interiors

Optimized fresh air quantities
Daylight maximized to 98% of regularly occupied rooms
Protection of building systems and occupants from construction contamination
Reduced exposure to toxins, volatile organic compounds, urea formaldehyde
Occupant-controlled lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation

Low-emitting paints, carpets, adhesives, sealants, paints, and coatings
Occupant window shading controls for thermal comfort
Air quality management during construction, with air handler filtration with a
rating of at least MERV 8
Flush-out prior to occupancy by supplying a total air volume of 14,000 cubic feet
of outdoor air per square foot of floor area while maintaining an internal
temperature of 60 degrees F and relative humidity of 60%


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